environment, pollution in cities

Study links COVID-19 deaths to pollution

Research claims that the most polluted neighbourhoods in Istanbul, which have the lowest income, suffer the most deaths from coronavirus.

A recent study carried out on the city of Istanbul has established a possible relationship between a higher rate of deaths from COVID-19 with those areas which register the highest pollution, which in turn correspond to districts of the Turkish metropolis where its residents have lower incomes.

The study, whose data were published a few days ago by the Turkish newspaper Milliyet, was prepared on the basis of a possible relationship between deaths from coronavirus, the socioeconomic situation of the population, and the levels of pollution in Istanbul. To do this, data on airborne concentration of PM10 particles, sulphur dioxides (SO2) and nitrogen compounds collected before the pandemic, were compared with those recorded during the pandemic.

Professors Nilay Etiler and Nilüfer Aykaç, the two Turkish researchers who authored the study, found a curious relationship: every 20% decrease in the socioeconomic level of a district of Istanbul, means that deaths from COVID-19 increase by 4% in that area of ​​the city.

In addition, if the district in question has a rate of inhabitants over 65 years of age greater than 10%, deaths from coronavirus among the elderly population of that district increase by 3%… but besides, deaths among the general population of that district also grow by 35%.

Coronavirus deaths are higher among low-income people

“We must emphasise that population, population density, household size and socioeconomic status in the 39 districts of Istanbul are heterogeneous. The population of the districts ranges from 16,000 inhabitants to even 957,000 in some; while people over 65 years of age constitute 35% of the population in some districts, in others they only account for 19.7%”, declared Professor Aykaç.

The conclusion of the study seems to be clear: in areas with most pollution, which are the poorest, there are more deaths from coronavirus. “Deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic in Istanbul are intrinsically linked to age, socioeconomic status, household size, and levels of air pollution. We have found that deaths are higher in people with low per capita income,” Aykaç noted.